Having been to Vietnam in the 90s and having seen how nice it is, it always bugged me when people asked "why would you go there?" It seemed people's perceptions of the country were based purely off of news footage showing fighting and destruction. When I met some Israelis in Africa and they told me what a beautiful country Israel is, I realized I may have been guilty of the same prejudices.
What I found when I arrived in Israel was a beautiful, modern, and lively country, with people who knew how to appreciate life because of the fragility of it. The conflict there is real but the areas where tourists visit are safer than most cities in the US. In spite of the reputation given to Israeli travelers abroad, I found the people to be extremely warm and welcoming, but in a uniquely genuine and honest way which might confuse a person from a culture where superfluous smiles and compliments are considered part of polite behavior.
The following photos were taken from the 6 weeks I spent there. I have attempted to avoided politics and simply capture the beautiful things that I saw. Some areas such as Bethlehem are not technically part of Israel, but I have included it in this gallery for the sake of simplicity. I hope everyone enjoys these photos.